Kinetics of ions and neutral active states in the afterglow and their influence on the memory effect in nitrogen at low pressures
The influence of positive ions and neutral active states on the memory effect in nitrogen-filled discharge tubes at 1.3 and 4.0 mbar pressures has been investigated. Analysing the thermal velocity of these particles as well as drift velocity of positive ions, it is shown that the positive ions have a dominant role in the breakdown initiation for afterglow periods lower than 30 ms, while the role of the neutral active states can be ignored because of their electrical neutrality. The estimated value of the positive ion recombination time in the afterglow for the pressures considered is about 30 ms. The atoms in ground states have a dominant role in breakdown initiation for afterglow periods higher than 30 ms. Our supposition is based on the earlier results that the long-lived Lewis-Rayleigh glow lasts up to several hours as a consequence of the recombination of these atoms on the wall. A detailed analysis of relaxation processes has shown that a contribution of vibrationally excited molecules as well as atomic and molecular metastable states created during the previous discharge cannot contribute to the memory effect significantly. Also, the contribution of cosmic rays to memory effect is analysed for the afterglow periods when the concentration of atoms in the ground state decreases to such a low value that their role in the secondary electron emission from the cathode is ignored.